Take a bow, Bill Belichick. You've earned it.
At 4-1, and 2-0 into a brutal three-month stretch, the New England Patriots, really your New England Patriots, are officially somehow in the discussion.
Basically, it's anybody's Lombardi Trophy. Why not the Patriots.
Around here it's been mighty negative the last few months, or really nine months since the team's debilitating loss to these same Baltimore Ravens last January.
As the franchise's CEO of football operations, Belichick has taken the brunt of it.
He's been called a lot of things, including a "has-been," a lousy coach and an even lousier general manager. The one that caught my ear recently has been "the game has passed him by."
Another one compared him to his days in Cleveland when he was the quintessential control freak due to the fact that he doesn't have an offensive and defensive coordinator.
Yesterday was living proof Belichick has never been better. The Patriots look liked they didn't deserve to be on the field the first half yesterday, with their young defensive backs looking confused all too often.
"I'm really proud of those kids," said Belichick. "They played hard. (They were) 10 points down in the fourth quarter, rallied, fought through it in overtime."
Boring? Yes. But it couldn't have been more meaningful. These really are kids leading his defense, with five starters yesterday who haven't yet turned 24.
Then came the adjustments. Then his "kids," as Belichick himself called them yesterday, started looking like Patriots' teams of Belichick's past.
Apparently, the guys in the locker room haven't been paying attention to the criticism coming Belichick's way?
"Who's been saying (the game has passed him by)? Have you heard that from anybody in this locker room?" asked Vince Wilfork, getting a "no" answer. "I didn't think so. "As far as I'm concerned, Bill is still a genius. The things he still sees is amazing. He puts himself in the mind of the offensive coordinator on the other team. He predicts what they're going to do. And he's almost always right."